Tabitha Carvan is Senior Staff Writer in the sciences for the Australian National University, and a freelance writer on the side. 

Home

Home

This brief essay appeared in the multimedia exhibition Home, created by the artist Beth Taylor for Sweets Workshop. Photo by Beth Taylor.


The further you are away from home, the more abstract the idea of home becomes, and the looser your definition.

Many miles away, "home" no longer conjures up your bedroom, your letterbox; it's your continent, your hemisphere. Traveling back from the other side of the world, I have become dewy-eyed over crossings of the equator, expanding my sense of home turf to half of the whole globe. For this one moment, my far-flung fellow antipodeans - Chileans, Tanzanians - become my next-door neighbours.

And then the plane lands, and I am home on that tarmac. And then the taxi takes us through the light industrial zones of Sydney and I am home amidst the tyre shops. And then we turn into our street and Chileans are foreigners again, a million miles away. Now my next-door neighbours actually live next door.

But there is also a different kind of home, a fixed one that can't shift or change depending on how far away you are. It's your childhood home, the first home you're truly conscious of.

The last time my plane landed in Sydney, it was to return to have a baby after a number of years away. Babies seem to expand your life but shrink your world, and now my home is not even so big as my street, or my neighbourhood; it's within the confines of my house. For the first time since I was a kid myself, my house and home are the one and the same.

And for my son, this house is not just a figurative shrunken world, but actually his whole world. This is, for him, what a home is like. Its windows and doors are what windows and doors are. They are the definitive example. Our teapot, our table and our family, are exactly how teapots, tables and families should be.

He will one day go to his friends' homes and see different teapots and smell unusual smells in their kitchen and find that other families aren't like his at all, and he will one day travel overseas rendering his "back home" a whole country, but this home will always be the archetype to compare all others against. I never really knew before what it meant to be a home-maker, nor did I understand this responsibility. My son can go as far away as he likes, and have as many different fleeting homes, but this one will be the mould they all come out of.

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